By Diane Pucin, Los Angeles Times –
NEW YORK — Serena Williams wore a girly-girl bright pink tennis dress Thursday at the U.S. Open, one that seemed suitable for a cocktail party but remained appropriate for Williams’ firebrand style of tennis.
While her 30-year-old American contemporary, Andy Roddick, was announcing his retirement from tennis whenever his U.S. Open ends, Williams was pounding her way into the third round of the U.S. Open. Williams served 11 aces but also showed cleverness and perseverance while beating Spanish baseline wizard Maria Jose Martinez-Sanchez, 6-2, 6-4.
Even as the fourth-seeded Williams was hitting winners and chasing down drop shots, she would grumble or shake her head.
“It was one of those days,” Williams said. “I wasn’t really happy with the way I was playing. I think I just woke up on the wrong side of the bed.”
Williams said she was not hindered by her left ankle, which she injured and had treated during a doubles match she played with sister Venus Williams on Wednesday.
“I was running for a shot and rolled it,” Williams said. “Story of my ankle life. But it’s fine. I did a lot of ice and tape and compression to keep the swelling out. I rolled it in Australia (earlier this year), so I was a little nervous. But it’s fine.”
What made Williams more emotional Thursday was speaking about Roddick’s announcement that he would retire when his run in the Open is over.
She said Roddick had told her last year that this Open might be his last. “I was just thinking, ‘Change your mind, Andy, change your mind.’ But I guess he didn’t.”
Williams, coming off championships at Wimbledon and the Olympics, chased down almost a dozen drop shots by Martinez-Sanchez and countered with power to earn a win even on a day when she wasn’t totally happy with her play.
The men’s top-seeded player, Roger Federer, had an easy trip into the third round, needing only 90 minutes to dispose of Germany’s Bjorn Phau, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2.
The first major upset of the tournament occurred when fifth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who a year ago reached the U.S. Open quarterfinals and charmed the New York crowd with his tantalizing, attacking tennis and his appreciative demeanor, lost in the second round to 23-year-old Martin Klizan of Slovakia, 6-4, 1-6, 6-1, 6-3.
“It seemed like I couldn’t hit the ball enough hard to put my opponent out of position,” the French player said. “I don’t really know why it was like this today, but sometimes it happens with me.” Tsonga said he was not dealing with an injury.
“It’s tennis,” he said. “Sometimes you win, sometimes you lost. It’s always sad when you lost, but I will wait for another good moment. I will forget this.”
There was a much more lively performance from 19-year-old American Jack Sock, who beat Italian veteran Flavio Cipolla in a second-round match, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4. Just before Sock was to serve for the match, a fan on Court 17 fainted in the stands, causing a lengthy delay. Sock was unfazed and after he hit the winning point, the first thing Sock asked about was the fan, who, Sock was told, was fine.